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ratatosk's Profile

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Kouign Amman?

My aunt brought me some of these Breton pastries from a bakery outside of Salt Lake City, and they've been preying on my mind since. What God would eat if He was in the mood for a palmier. Is there a little Brittany somewhere in the city, or is there some fancy bakery that makes these?

Jul 26, 2008
ratatosk in Manhattan

New to Dallas - need some recommendations around Lakewood

I haven't eaten at the Alligator Cafe that much. In my limited experience, it's pretty solid food, but not excursion stuff; if I lived near it, I'd eat there pretty regularly. That said, the fried catfish is top notch.

Mar 14, 2008
ratatosk in Texas

Marrow Gut

Got to thinking recently (after reading a post about goat's rumen in Queens and mistaking the rumen for the marrow gut) about Frank X. Tolbert's essay on "The Gentleman from Odessa", which contains an elaborate stew recipe involving various less common parts of the cow. The star of the show, apparently, without which the SOB stew is not SOB stew, is the marrow gut, which is a particular type of tripe - the tube connecting two stomachs, in particular, ideally from a young calf.

Anyway, I've always kind of wanted to make some of this stew, but I'd written it off as an idle fantasy. But, since it was on my mind, I thought I'd ask - does anyone know where to get this stuff? I'm given to understand that good Argentine butchers will sometimes carry it, but that helps me precisely zero.

Mar 05, 2008
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Taqueria Coatzingo -- why it is my favorite Mexican

Aha! Pansa is goat's rumen, you say. Well, good thing I'm on the E train pretty regularly these days, because that's vaulting right to the top of my list. Ever since reading Frank X. Tolbert's essay on "The Gentleman from Odessa" stew, I've been longing to try rumen (calf's rumen, actually, but I'll take what I can get). This is the first time that it has appeared to be a realistic option for me.

How exciting! I am, yet again, heavily indebted to your expertise.

Mar 05, 2008
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Dad likes offal.

You might look into Momofuku or Ssam Bar. I know, they're neither French nor Italian, nor really quiet, but they are almost as committed to offal as Mario Batali's restaurants; Ssam Bar has an offal section on its dinner menu.

Or, speaking of Batali, have you tried Lupa?

Feb 27, 2008
ratatosk in Manhattan

New to Dallas - need some recommendations around Lakewood

OK, that caps it, dalaimama. You're pretty much on top of the scene. I'm hard pressed to add anything other than a resounding agreement.

Most of what I have to say other people have already said, but let me repeat some of the more important stuff for emphasis.

The Centennial in Lakewood is pretty good for liquor, but if you can spare the 10 minute drive (maybe more in rush hour), Sigel's on Greenville is ABSOLUTELY your best bet for wine, as well as for other things. Their beer selection isn't great, but you can always pick up beer at Central Market, which has one of the best selections in town.

Dixie House and the Highland Park Cafeteria are great for kids, and the Cafeteria is fantastic - a real Dallas establishment. Their desserts have fallen off since reopening, unfortunately (they used to be some of the best in the city, but no longer), but the brisket, fried fish, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and squash casserole are all great. The HPC's a pretty unique place - if you make a habit of eating there, you won't regret it.

Wild About Harry's is awesome; Harry's Favorite Sundae changed my notion of what a sundae should be.

Somebody else mentioned Brothers' Chicken, and that, too, deserves reiteration. Fantastic livers (for the grown-ups), and rock solid drumsticks.

Two places that haven't been mentioned are Keller's, on Garland east of Buckner, and the Dairyette, on Ferguson east of Buckner. I guess maybe those are far enough afield from Lakewood that they won't be of much use to you (you do, after all, have Burger House). But the Dairyette, in particular, is a great place for kids - it's an old-fashioned drive-up (not thru) with what might be the best milkshakes in Dallas.

Feb 27, 2008
ratatosk in Texas

Taqueria Coatzingo -- why it is my favorite Mexican

Sorry - late response - but I've been away.

When I had the huazontles, I was mystified - I'd never had them before, and had no idea what they were when I ordered them. I ended up sort of picking them up by the thick end of the stem and biting down loosely, then pulling away so that the thick stems stayed attached and the tiny leaves and thinnest stems detached in my mouth with the batter, cheese, and sauce. Finding the right tooth pressure was a bit of work, and I still had to spit out the occasional stem, but I managed to eat most of the plateful.

The next week, I was having lunch with a colleague of mine from Mexico. She was impressed that I knew a place in NYC to get huazontles. But - and here's the reason I'm typing this - I asked her about the stems, and she said that that was typical, and that the way I slid the stuff off with my teeth and threw out the thick stems was pretty much the way to eat them. So, kind of a pain to eat, but I agree - the most interesting food I've had in ages. It really jarred me from my normal way of thinking about food, back to the idea that this was some random organism that, unlike thousands of similar plants, had been chosen as something to eat.

Feb 27, 2008
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Best Pecan Pie (in Georgia?)

Sorry. It's rude to revive my own post, but I'm going to be in Atlanta in a month or two, and I'd like to track down some pecan pie while I'm there. I had some Georgia and Alabama pecans over the holiday, along with lots of Texas pecans, and the Southern pecans definitely beat the Texan pecans. My Atlanta-born-and-bred grandmother tells me that this is because Texan pecans are all seedlings instead of purebred clones. She recommended Mahan pecans, if I have the chance. But back to the issue - what are some champion pecan pies available in Atlanta?

Jan 19, 2008
ratatosk in Southeast

Coffee in Williamsburg

Great! Thanks; I'll give it a try.

Nov 10, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Coffee in Williamsburg

I love Gimme Coffee, but they close at 8PM, and as a grad student I need strong coffee and a place to sit and read at 1 or 2 AM. Does anyone know a place in or near Williamsburg that fits the bill? Surely I don't actually have to take the train into Manhattan just to find a good late-night coffee shop!

Nov 10, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Sripraphai - Your Favorite Dish(es)

Depends on the curry. For the Southern, I like pork.

Nov 06, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Cask Ales in DFW

Last time I was in the Gingerman, which was several months ago (but less than a year), they had cask-conditioned St. Arnold's. Good stuff.

I think the Flying Saucer might have a cask engine or two, but I won't swear to it.

My experience is that, unless you're in England, a given bar will have at most two cask engines, and usually just one. So you can't pick and choose. That said, if you ever see Wailing Wench (out of upstate NY) on cask, get some. Fantastic stuff.

Oct 26, 2007
ratatosk in Texas

Advice about Grimaldi's

Nice to see a little perspective. Putting aside (for the nonce) all the issues about whether it is now what it once was, or whether it deserves to be listed amongst the elite of NYC's pizzerias, I contend that there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that this pizza is of a quality attained with vanishingly small frequency outside of a few places in the country. Yeah, there's that one place in Arizona, just to mess up any sweeping generalizations about the seaboards. And sure, if you like sourdough, the Cheeseboard is pretty good. And there's that whole question about Chicago style pizza, and whether Chicago and surrounding locales have any good thin crust pizza. But how many of the 50 states, say, have pizza better than Grimaldi's? I bet you can count the number on one hand. Certainly we're talking single digits. Even the most venomous Grimaldi-haters have to give me that.

Personally, I think Grimaldi's turns out a very respectable pie. The sauce isn't the least bit sugary, it has the right flavor, and there's about the right amount of it. The cheese is of reasonably high quality, but not so fancy that it melts into a pool of butter when you show a flame to it. The crust can be a little soggy, but when they manage to cook it long enough it has a pretty good chew to it, and it's got that nice coal-smoke flavor. I'll take a Grimaldi's pie over a pie from John's, Lombardi's, or Arturo's any day of the week.

Oct 25, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

cane sugar v. corn syrup in sodas

Which 99 cents stores? In NYC? That would be fantastic news! Can we have more details?

Oct 21, 2007
ratatosk in Manhattan

Central Texas BBQ

Who says none of us have tried Coopers?

It's Laird's I've never tried - I've been to Llano probably 8 or 9 time for BBQ, and not ONCE have they ever been open.

But yeah, I love Cooper's. The place is tremendous. But I just don't think it's as quite as good as the heavy hitters east of Austin.

Oct 19, 2007
ratatosk in Texas

DFW suggestion?

I'm way out of the loop, but what about First Chinese BBQ or Arc-en-Ciel? I haven't been to either in well over a year, but I remember both places being pretty good. Especially the sauteed water spinach at 1st Chinese...

Oct 18, 2007
ratatosk in Texas

Best local-to-Texas beer

At least at the Gingerman in Dallas, they have St. Arnold's hand-pulled from a cask. Definitely my favorite Texas beer. Shiner Bock is a great default beer, and living in NYC I miss it sorely, but when I lived in California it was readily available, and I think their market penetration is ever increasing, so it hardly qualifies as a strictly local-to-Texas beer.

Real Ale beers are also very good.

Oct 18, 2007
ratatosk in Texas

GODFATHER style Italian restaurant

I think there are a bunch of places like this in Brooklyn, down in the Bensonhurst area, that I haven't been to. Joe's of Ave U springs to mind, and I'm sure there are others. A search through these boards will reveal more information from more knowledgeable folds than myself about such spots. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future I'll be more help with those places. But right now, the best I can recommend to you are Roberto's in the Bronx and Cono & Sons' O'Pescatore in Williamsburg. Actually, let me add Patsy's in East Harlem - I haven't explored their menu much, because their pizza is so good, but everything I've had has been quite good, and the feel and style of the place is about right, I think.

Oct 18, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Top Pizza in NYC

I'm glad someone approves! It's such a touchy subject.

Joe's is sort of half and half. I've never been blown away by their pizza. Various sources suggest that this has to do with the time of day, or the time of week, or who knows what, but if I can't go there any time it's open and get a great slice, the place loses a lot of its appeal. That said, you can go there any time and get a pretty good slice, and that's worth a lot to me. If I lived anywhere near the place, I'm sure I'd be a regular. I definitely prefer their pizza to John's, and possibly to Lombardi's. But I don't really consider it a "destination pie", as I do the others I mentioned; I wouldn't travel more than about 5 minutes out of my way for a slice there, whereas I'd spend a whole day going up to New Haven, or two hours waiting in line for a slice at DiFara.

In other words, I left Joe's off my list without meaning any disrespect. It's great for what it is, I just don't think it's one of "The Great Pizzas of New York City". Whereas, with Lombardi's and John's, disrespect was definitely part of the package deal.

Oct 18, 2007
ratatosk in Manhattan

Pastrami Sandwich

Yeah, I actually fell in love with Pastrami at Langer's first, then moved to NYC. It's a close call. They're very similar products - dripping, juicy, fatty, warm meat, not the thin glossy sheets of reddish pink rimmed with black that seem to be the norm absolutely everywhere else. Langer's does have better bread, but a much worse egg cream, and nothing else I've had is as good as at Katz's. But the Pastrami...

I'll put it this way. It's a close enough call that I'd need to try both of them, side by side, freshly sliced, to make the decision. And unfortunately, that's difficult to arrange. You can't trust Jonathan Gold on this - as great as he is, he grew up in LA, so he's biased. I'm pretty sure neither is good enough to be definitively better than the other. As opposed to Katz's competition in NYC, which (as long as 2nd ave remains out of commission) is, in my opinion, no real competition at all.

Oct 16, 2007
ratatosk in Manhattan

Taqueria Coatzingo -- why it is my favorite Mexican

If it's that easy to make your day, let me throw my hat in the ring as well. My friend and I have been going there recently, based on your recommendation, and while I've been pretty underwhelmed by the regular menu stuff I've tasted (that other people got), I've always ordered off the specials menu and I've always been thrilled. So, thank you very much for adding another restaurant to my list of standards. This is exactly the sort of home-run recommendation that makes Chowhound great.

Oct 16, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Advice about Grimaldi's

Not the best in Brooklyn, but yes, I think it's quite good. I might even say, better than any I've had in Manhattan. A cannoli and an espresso is a great way to end a meal there; even though it's right by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, I usually go for the cannoli.

Oct 16, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Advice about Grimaldi's

Should be a little quicker during the week at lunch, in my experience. You can probably get in and out in an hour (I'm imagining about a 10 minute wait), but I'd leave an hour and a half just to be sure. Obviously, if you can skew to be there a little before or after, the wait will be shorter.

Remember to get some cannoli.

Oct 16, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Lucali's - what's going on?

Probably they're new enough that they didn't have enough reviews submitted to be considered reliable? That's my guess, anyway. It was like that with DiFara a couple years back, too - it was tied with Peter Luger that year for the highest food ranking (as I seem to recall - I may be way off here, never having purchased the thing), but because only a few people had suggested DiFara they didn't put it on any of the lists. I guess there weren't enough data points to make the high score reliable enough to put on a big list.

For the record, that's totally fine by me. The place is hardly hurting for business, so being Zagat's #1 pizza place or whatever would be a strictly bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

Oct 16, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

One Dinner in NYC - Unique but American

Is Katz's too casual? It's unique, NYC-only, not too adventurous (if Pastrami is a walk on the wild side, which seems unlikely, there's always good old corned beef), casual... I guess there's nothing new-americanish about it.

Anyway, Keens and Peter Luger are both great choices - NYC does have a proud tradition of delicious steaks - and if a sandwich isn't properly formal, I'd like to second both of those recommendations. But I think Katz's is a much more uniquely NYC meal. I mean, it might not be Peter Luger's, but you can get a pretty great steak in many major cities in America. But a pastrami like Katz's? Not exactly commonplace.

Oct 14, 2007
ratatosk in Manhattan

Best Mac and Cheese

It doesn't meet the poster's description of "super rich and creamy", but I just recently had the "Macaroni pie" at Ali's Roti on Flatbush, and I thought it was excellent stuff. It was served in room-temperature squares that were so densely packed that you could pick them up and eat them with your hands. A nice cheesy baked crust on top that was thin enough not to be leathery, and a sort of eggy cheesiness that washes out from the pasta as you chew... pretty great stuff. Vaguely reminiscent of some of the really great mac 'n' cheese you find down South, or in Texas: soulful stuff. And the roti's not bad, either (especially if you ask for plenty of hot sauce).

Oct 14, 2007
ratatosk in Manhattan

Lucali's - what's going on?

I think it's just Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and maybe Sprite.

Oct 14, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Lucali's - what's going on?

Yes, my experience matches yours. I remember it being fantastic pizza, and last time I went it was merely very good, primarily because the dough was pillowy and a little bland. Next time I go, I'm asking for my pie well done - I hope that maybe that will rectify the problem.

Oct 14, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Canolis in Bay Ridge?

It's true. I remember the first (and last) time I ordered a "cannolo", up in Carroll Gardens. The girl behind the counter was at first confused, and then barely able to keep from laughing when she figured out what I meant. "Cannoli" is definitely both the singular and plural.

Oct 12, 2007
ratatosk in Outer Boroughs

Please Help NY hound throwing TX party

Joe T's chapel sounds awesome!

If you're in Ft. Worth, and decide not to go with Joe T's, I'd STRONGLY recommend looking into getting some ribs from Angelo's. People will argue about it, but they're the standard choice for best BBQ in the DFW area; they're perfect finger food, and certainly qualify as a regional specialty.

Oct 11, 2007
ratatosk in Texas